The Sacramento Kings experienced a lot of roster, and management, turnover this summer, letting Tyreke Evans go to New Orleans and bringing in Greivis Vasquez as well as finding a new owner, general manager and coach. The dreaded Maloof brothers no longer run the team and they’re staying in Sacramento. But Isaiah Thomas is still around, and we spoke with him by phone last month to talk about sneakers, the Kings and more.
Coming out of the University of Washington, Zeke — as many call him — was the last player selected in the 2011 NBA Draft. But within that same rookie season, he’d taken over the full-time point guard duties on the Kings. He started 37 games in his first season and 62 last year, but the addition of Vasquez could mean Zeke returning to a back-up role like the one he filled right after coming out of college. Isaiah doesn’t mind if someone points this out though, it’s just more fuel for when he gets in the gym.
The 5-9 point guard spoke with us by phone to talk about his love for Reebok sneakers, growing up watching those epic Sonics teams in the Northwest, why he has a Mighty Mouse tattoo and much more.
*** *** ***
Dime: How did you get your start with Reebok and what separates them from other brands?
Isaiah Thomas: Probably just the retro look. Going back to the Allen Iverson’s the Shaquille O’Neal’s and the Emmitt Smith’s. Stuff like that. Probably the retro look this year. It’s going in that direction this year. At one time Reebok was the top endorser and everybody wanted to wear Reebok’s so—when Allen Iverson was playing. I think it’s getting it’s swag back, and we do got some heat if we wanna put it out.
D: There have been a lot of re-releases this year. Do you have a favorite?
IT: I been in all the color Kamikaze’s. All the re-issues that’s coming out, I just was wearing the Kamikaze’s. As a kid when the Iverson’s were coming out. I used to be into the Reebok shoe: The Question and then The Answer, the Kamikaze was definitely my favorite shoe right now especially in the NBA.
D: Is a there a colorway you enjoy the most for the Kamikaze?
IT: Actually, Reebok made me customized Kings colorways, so white, purple, black grey were probably my favorites to get. They feature my kids’ names too, so that’s good.
D: We’ve noticed with the comfort and support it doesn’t always translate with the re-releases. Do you get special Reebok’s, player exclusives etc, for games with more comfort and support?
IT: Yeah, but with the Kamikaze’s they’re already comfortable to me anyway without that. The only one’s that aren’t so comfortable, like that I couldn’t wear on the court, are The Question’s and those are my favorite Reebok shoe of all time. I’m not—you might seen me in a couple Question’s this season because they might customize them, so—
D: So The Questions are your favorite of all-time, could you rank your top 5 Reebok sneakers?
IT: The Question is No. 1, The Kamikaze’s No. 2, Shaqnosis No. 3, and then—I like the Emmitt Smith’s as a football shoe—that came out earlier this year. And then the zip-up ones where Iverson stepped over Tyronn Lue. Those round up my top 5.
D: Speaking of the Kamikaze’s, did you grow up watching Kemp since you’re from the Northwest?
IT: Oh yeah. Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. When he was dunking on people and pointing at them, he was doing it in Reebok’s. They were nice back then, and everybody loves them now.
D: How was it for you when there were all the rumors about going to Seattle or staying Sacramento? How did you stay out of it, since it was your hometown and your new town?
IT: Yeah it was tough. But at the same time I told people that I could only do what I could control and that’s when I play basketball. Whether we play in Seattle or Sacramento, I can’t control that. I didn’t know too much about it—other than what we read in newspapers and things like that. My job was on the court, not figure out where we were going to play. And now that it’s all said and done and over with, I’m just happy it’s over with because everybody back home kept asking me about coming to Seattle.
D: Is there a classic shoe you were hoping Reebok would re-release, but they haven’t done it yet?
IT: Not really. Iverson IV’s. The Shaqnosis. I never had them before and so that was one I was excited about since I didn’t have a pair yet.
D: What do you think about the Pumps?
IT: The Pumps are nice. I got a few pairs of the Dee Brown’s. Actually it’s funny because Dee Brown is our assistant coach, now. So I was asking him, ‘you still got a pair of those pumps?’ I forgot what he said, whether he has a few pairs. He probably does.
D: You mentioned the one’s Reebok did with your kids and stuff. Are those your favorites in terms of the Player Exclusives?
IT: Yeah, those are by far my favorites. They got some Swagget to ‘em. Not everybody can get them, and it’s something when you walk in the gym, I get compliments on them all the time.
D: You get compliments?
IT: Yeah, all the time. And they ask, ‘Can I get a pair.’ ‘Nah, you can’t.’ Obviously you can’t have this one, I only got a few pairs of them.
D: So you think the fans are really digging the re-releases.
IT: Yeah, definitely. That’s when kids wore their [Reebok’s] shoes back then. The Iverson’s, the Kemp’s, and kids these days love retro, they love wearing things [that were cool] back in the day. It was smart of Reebok to do.